Libraries will be reviewed as Sheffield Council struggles with budget cuts

Libraries will be reviewed as Sheffield Council grapples with a multi million pound budget blackhole.

Monday, 14th February 2022, 12:55 pm
Updated Monday, 14th February 2022, 2:40 pm

The authority will need to use reserves to cover a £14m budget shortfall and is increasing council tax by the maximum three per cent.

But finance chiefs say that will only balance the books for this year and services, including libraries, will need to be reviewed.

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Council tax goes up in Sheffield thanks to a £14m budget blackhole
Libraries will be reviewed as Sheffield Council tries to deal with budget cuts.

Director of finance Ryan Keyworth told a meeting: “This is the most challenging budget process the council has had to deal with for a long time, if not ever.

“We are keeping an incredibly close eye on next year’s costs and we’ve already started identifying some potential issues.

“We simply can’t afford anymore. That’s it. We need to manage within the budget we’ve got and that’s going to require some difficult choices.

“We identified £52.7m worth of savings but there’s a gap of £14.5m and that’s the amount of reserves we’re having to use.

“It is critical the council stays within the budget we set this year. We can’t arrive at this point next year with a significant overspend, we simply won’t have the reserves to manage it.”

Could more libraries be run by volunteers?

Mr Keyworth warned it would not be easy finding savings.

“It requires services to look at their costs and fees; to look at office accommodation and – critically – to make progress on the leisure strategy to see long term costs lower than they are today.

“We are planning a series of strategic reviews across the council to examine how we can maintain or improve services while saving money.

“That might mean doing things differently or working in a more joined up way. We may continue as a council to deliver services or deliver them in a different way.

Libraries is an example of something we did in the past, where we moved some libraries to be volunteer-led.

“There’s still an investment from the council in doing that but it’s a lower investment and is a way of continuing to provide those services to communities that are at a lower cost to the council tax payer.”